Here are just a few thoughts I’ve had on homosexuality. My cousin Tina and I were talking about this, and I thought I would share the reflections I shared with her. I will be speaking about this in church this week, and I’m both excited and nervous.
I think the culture right now is going two different directions. “Embrace all alternative lifestyles!” is the rallying cry of those who believe gay rights is the new civil rights movement, and anyone who disagrees will be buried by the changing tides, lost on the wrong side of history.
At the same time, the Christian culture hasn’t had much more of a helpful approach. They are repulsed by gays and afraid of them, and “pray the gay away” has been an approach held by many. This usually ends in denial, pain, and trauma for the homosexual going through this type of program. The world’s biggest “pray the gay away” group, Exodus, just closed, apologizing to the gay community for all the hurt and trauma they have caused.
Gays DO get bullied. And that is not okay. The “that’s gay!” jokes are not okay. The hate crimes are real. The repulsion is completely unwarranted and too far. This isn’t love, and it’s not what I’m convinced Jesus would do.
However, the Bible is pretty clear that people were created male and female, to have relationships male and female. Leviticus and Romans 1:20 don’t come down easy on homosexuality. It is seen as a perversion of normal sexuality. I always “read the other side”. So I’ve read all the attempts to harmonize these passages with homosexuality by saying they refer to temple worship, etc. I simply haven’t been impressed with this approach, and neither was my Greek professor in college.
I would say that we all have broken parts of our own sexuality. For instance, I am regularly tempted with lust toward girls. There are definitely girls I would like to take home. But I don’t have to give into this temptation. Temptation is not a sin. Giving in to it is.
That’s where I think it’s helpful to distinguish different aspects of homosexuality:
1. Homosexual Attraction (sexual or romantic attraction to someone of the same gender)
2. Homosexual Action (homosexual lust, sex, marriage)
3. Homosexual Orientation (a prolonged pattern of attraction toward those of the same gender)
4. Homosexual Identity (Finding your identity in your homosexual orientation)
I want to talk about these individually.
1. Homosexual attraction is not wrong. This is temptation. It may be a broken part of people’s sexuality (they are supposed to be attracted to the opposite gender, but something went wrong hormonally or genetically or in their past), but having an attraction toward someone of the same gender isn’t wrong. I am immediately sexually attracted to many women on my first glance. But I have a choice. Am I going to stare or create a fantasy in my head, or am I going to clear my mind and turn away? The same choice is there for homosexuals.
2. Homosexual actions are clearly wrong – forbidden by Scripture. If a person who experiences homosexual attraction is going to follow Jesus, they can’t act on these attractions.
3. Homosexual orientation is just a pattern of attraction. It’s a series of temptations. This falls into category #1. A lot of people think that homosexual orientation can be cured or isn’t present from birth, but I’m not sure this is the case. Nevertheless, we are all born with some kind of genetic flaw or sin. Just because someone is born with a genetic heart condition, doesn’t mean this is how their heart is supposed to operate. Homosexual orientation represents a broken sexuality, but it is something people can’t help and can be seen as just a series of temptations.
4. Homosexual identity, I would say, is the most “gray” area of all of these. First, I would say it’s not okay to embrace a homosexual identity in such a way that leads to homosexual actions. And I do think that our identity should first be in Christ, always, not in our sexual identity. Christ gives us a new identity that covers all our brokenness. I may struggle with lust sometimes, but I’m not an adulterer because Jesus covers me with the banner of “pure”. Jesus’ blood covers my lies with the banner of truth. This is no excuse to act in a way that doesn’t fit that banner, but we need to find our identity in Jesus’ perfection, not our own brokenness. And homosexual identity is brokenness in sexuality.
Finally, I would say that Christians with a homosexual attraction or orientation have it really rough. To follow Christ, they essentially have to live a life of celibacy. That is a TOUGH call. We need to help them by being extra loving and taking the time to include them in our lives as friends. They are people who are in need of extra hugs and phone calls and movie nights.